Reminisce With Me/"They're Coming Out of the Woodwork!"

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The following represents the 2008 fannish memories of Nancy Kippax, which she recorded on LJ in the last months of her life. Permission to archive these memories has been granted to Fanlore by April Valentine.

Apr. 11th, 2008
First of all, I'd like to ask your forgiveness for taking so long to record this latest post. I got somewhat carried away with RL and flying up to Baltimore to see Lou Diamond Phillips in the stage production of "Camelot!" there. It, and he, was glorious and a private audience with King Arthur really perked up my spirits! Upon returning home, I was still too dazzled to concentrate on anything, so this took a little longer than the others. I want to try to keep to a schedule of posting at least once a week – but don't hold me to it! 'Try' is the operative word!
Second, please understand that this slightly damaged brain of mine isn't as fresh as it was when I was younger, and sometimes my memory fails. If I get anything wrong, if my timeline gets chopped up or my names and places aren't all that exact, please know that I'm doing my best. And I have no objection to being corrected. In fact, I welcome corrections. Please, don't hesitate to jump in with your own memories and recollections. That's what this is for!
In Baltimore, we were building the original circle of local fen which would someday be dubbed the "Contact Crowd" or the "Baltimore Bunch." Bev was the point person because she didn't work, and because it was her address and telephone number that were listed in several places. Her telephone was getting a work out, with frequent calls from strangers who were yet to become friends. It was after one such call that she turned to me and said a line that we would repeat often in the coming years about ST fans: "They're coming out of the woodwork!"
Some of the very earliest people to "make contact" were a homemaker and RN from Hagerstown, Maryland, a town about an hour from Baltimore. One weekend, Bev and I took a drive up to meet her and that was the beginning of a great friendship. Another lady who lived in the Baltimore suburb of Cockeysville with the unlikely nickname of "Pete" began coming to see Bev during the week and I soon met her on either a week night or a weekend. One night, I remember going over to Bev's house, where a teenaged niece and her aunt, who was an art teacher and doll collector, came to visit and discuss the meaning of the "Kirk-Spock relationship". And on June 26, a young newlywed French teacher met Bev for morning coffee and cake.
Each of these K-S enthusiasts had found their way to Utrecht Road via divergent paths, and each brought her own talents to the mix. Pete wrote wonderful poetry which would soon appear in the pages of our zine. She was also an eager and welcome helper with jobs such as recording orders, readying zines for mailing, and collating. The niece and her art teacher aunt were Kathy Burns, who would become part of the Omicron Ceti III filk group, and the art "teacher" was soon to be one of the most talented and sought-after artists in fandom, Pat Stall. And that young French teacher? Ah, that would be [April Valentine], our beloved "third sister".
There's a funny story about [April]'s emergence into our family. When she first visited with Bev, she had timidly brought along a story that she had written, sharing it with Bev with the instruction that she not show it to anyone else. There was a certain. . . [Valentin]ian "kink" in the story that made her hesitant to make it public. Of course, she had already sent this in the mail to Shirley Maiewski, head of the Welcommittee and author of the famous fan story, "Mind Sifter", but, hey, mail was different than face to face, right? (Ask her sometime why her early nickname was B. B. [Valentine]!) Naturally, Bev read the story, some 70-odd pages long, and a few days later, I was at my sister's house, saw it sitting somewhere, picked it up and began to read it. Bev walked in and saw what I was doing and said, "Oh, no – you weren't supposed to see that!" Well, I finished it anyway, and we discussed it and what we could tell the budding author. That evening, [April] called and said she could come over to talk about her story, and Bev asked her if it would be okay if I read it. [April] reluctantly said it was okay and advised she was leaving her apartment in a few minutes. Well, it only took her about 20 minutes to get to Bev's and I was there waiting. It soon became apparent that I, too, had read the story, and [April] thought that I must be some kind of speed reader to have read such a long work in such a short time. We didn't tell her the truth, or it didn't come up, for a long time!
There were others who came and went during the next few months, but these were the ones whom I remember the strongest.
There were also quite a few long-distance friendships being forged by mail – it was all snail mail in those days but it never deterred us from frequent correspondence. In those first few years, there was a flurry of communication that was unequaled in all the years to come. At the very beginning, I did a lot of the mail, and I wrote to all our overseas friends – Sheila Clark, Janet Quarton and others in England. The division of mail duty was fairly helter-skelter between Bev and I. She wrote to a female doctor in Texas, one of the earliest people to perceive the sexual connotation to K-S. I wrote to other zine editors like Leslye Lilker, editor of IDIC and author of the Sahaj series, who was not into K-S at all. So, it was a pretty mixed bag. We had potential contributors to woo and then their submissions to read and edit. And as the LOC's came in (Letters Of Comment), many of those needed a response. I'm amazed, now that I look back at it, that we ever got any story writing done! How we managed it all is a mystery!
Contact I was reprinted after the first of the year in 1976, and in May of that year we proudly brought out our second issue. Contact was growing up and growing larger. This issue was 119 pages and had a list of contributors that would have done any zine editor at the time proud. In addition to our own fiction and Russ's artwork, we had C. Faddis, J. Cantor, K. Penland, DT Steiner and others. We rented an electric typewriter, it wasn't a Selectric – we couldn't afford that yet. But we did have the funds to use offset printing, which was a huge improvement!
The winners of our Story Contest were Sheila Clark of England, and Jean Lorrah, soon to be very well known for her series of stories about Amanda and Sarek. The long-awaited, terribly Mary Sue-ish installment of our "Phase Two" series was included, despite protests from several of those nearest and dearest to us. Titled simply, "Tarra," Bev and I secretly referred to it as "Tarra St. John, Tarra St. John." (A play on the title of the popular comedic soap opera, "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.")
Just as we were developing a circle of friends in Baltimore who served as worker bees on more than one occasion, there were other pockets of fandom being formed. There was the New York crowd which peripherally included the New Jersey fen, some of whom overlapped into our circle because they appreciated the Kirk-Spock relationship. Leslye Lilker was the primary point person from her home on Long Island. There was a midwest contingent; they produced zines and the very popular fan conventions in Kalamazoo and Lansing, Michigan. There were several scattered enclaves on the west coast. Everywhere, fans were coming together to celebrate Trek, new friendships were being formed – man, it was bigger than the Summer of Love! Dig it!
The year of 1976 was so full that it will probably take another entry to tell it all, and this is just one person's account. Multiply that by the hundreds and you'll have some idea of how big this thing was. I'm no statistician or mathematician so I can't quote you numbers, but I want to give those of you who weren't around some idea of the magnitude of fandom in those early years. Bev and I used to joke that we could go on a trip around the country, visit every state, and we would know someone, could stay with someone, in each of the 50 states. And it was probably close to true.